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New materials improve oxygen catalysis

September 17, 2013 7:40 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers have found a new family of materials that provides the best-ever performance in a reaction called oxygen evolution, a key requirement for energy storage and delivery systems. The materials, called double perovskites, are a variant of a mineral that exists in abundance in the Earth’s crust. Their remarkable ability to promote oxygen evolution in a water-splitting reaction is detailed in a paper appearing in Nature Communications.

Separate from the Rest

August 28, 2013 9:13 am | Award Winners

Lithium-ion battery separators prevent the anode and cathode layers from contacting each other, allowing cell potential to be maintained and safe operation of the battery. The SYMMETRIX HPX-F polymer-ceramic composite separator, developed by Porous Power Technologies and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, achieves this functionality while improving safety over conventional polyolefin membranes.

Battery Chemistry Improves Power Density

August 28, 2013 8:47 am | Award Winners

Currently, electric grids have limited ability to store excess energy, so electricity must constantly be generated to perfectly match demand. Hence, power generation, transmission and distribution must accommodate the maximum demand of conditions and must include significant standby generation capacity. This adds capital expense, and forces power plants to idle or operate at non-efficient conditions. United Technologies Research Center has developed a flow-battery technology—called PureStorage—that provides affordable, safe, energy-efficient and readily deployable electrical energy storage.

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Battery Temperature Control

August 28, 2013 8:34 am | Award Winners

Understanding and controlling temperature is necessary for the successful operation of battery packs in electric-drive vehicles (EDVs). Isothermal Battery Calorimeters (IBCs), developed by National Renewable Energy Laboratory and NETZSCH North America, are the only calorimeters that can accurately measure heat generated from batteries used in EDVs—with a baseline sensitivity of 10 mW and heat detection as low as 15 J—while being charged and/or discharged.

Designer glue improves lithium-ion battery life

August 20, 2013 8:11 am | News | Comments

When it comes to improving the performance of lithium-ion batteries, no part should be overlooked; not even the glue that binds materials together in the cathode, researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford Univ. have found. Tweaking that material, which binds lithium sulfide and carbon particles together, created a cathode that lasted five times longer than earlier designs.

ORNL team uses lignin to power green battery

August 19, 2013 8:24 am | News | Comments

Lignin is a waste material that is produced when paper is manufactured from wood. Instead of disposing of the lignin, a research team at the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has learned how to take the material and convert it into powering a green battery.

Rechargeable flow battery enables cheaper, large-scale energy storage

August 19, 2013 7:38 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have engineered a new rechargeable flow battery that doesn’t rely on expensive membranes to generate and store electricity. The device, they say, may one day enable cheaper, large-scale energy storage. The palm-sized prototype generates three times as much power per square centimeter as other membraneless systems.

Environmentally friendly battery made from wood

July 24, 2013 12:01 pm | News | Comments

Taking inspiration from trees, scientists have developed a battery made from a sliver of wood coated with tin that shows promise for becoming a tiny, long-lasting, efficient and environmentally friendly energy source. The device, developed at the Univ. of Maryland, is 1,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper.

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B&W applauds NNSA sites selected for 2013 R&D 100 Awards

July 11, 2013 9:01 am | News | Comments

Three National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) sites where The Babcock & Wilcox Co. (B&W) operates have been selected as recipients of R&D Magazine's 2013 R&D 100 Awards. Sites honored include the Y-12 National Security Complex, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

NREL research earns three prestigious R&D 100 Awards

July 10, 2013 9:52 am | News | Comments

A new energy-efficient approach to building occupancy detection, a better way to detect heat loss in electric-vehicle batteries and a high-efficiency silicon solar cell—all developed or advanced at the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE)’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)—have been named among this year’s most significant innovations by R&D Magazine.

ORNL wins six 2013 R&D 100 Awards

July 9, 2013 3:38 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have received six R&D 100 awards. The six awards bring ORNL's total of R&D 100 awards to 179 since their inception in 1963. This year, ORNL received awards for the following technologies: ClimateMaster Trilogy 40 Q-Mode Geothermal Heat Pump, Distribute The Highest Selected Textual Recommendation, V-shaped External Cavity Laser Diode Array, and more.

New catalyst could replace platinum for automotive applications

July 3, 2013 9:46 am | News | Comments

The research team from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea has developed an inexpensive and scalable bio-inspired composite electrocatalyst, designed using iron phthalocyanine, a macrocyclic compound, anchored to single-walled carbon nanotubes. Under certain conditions, the new catalyst has a higher electrocatalytic activity than platinum-based catalysts, and better durability during cycling.

A battery made of wood?

June 20, 2013 7:49 am | News | Comments

A sliver of wood coated with tin could make a tiny, long-lasting, efficient and environmentally friendly battery. But don’t try it at home yet—the components in the battery tested by scientists at the Univ. of Maryland are a thousand times thinner than a piece of paper. Using sodium instead of lithium makes the battery environmentally benign, but it doesn't store energy as efficiently, so you won’t see this battery in your cell phone.

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Printing tiny batteries

June 18, 2013 1:52 pm | News | Comments

3-D printing can now be used to print lithium-ion microbatteries the size of a grain of sand. The printed microbatteries could supply electricity to tiny devices in fields from medicine to communications, including many that have lingered on laboratory benches for lack of a battery small enough to fit the device, yet provide enough stored energy to power them.

The science of sculpture, nano-style

June 14, 2013 9:53 am | by Angela Herring, Northeastern University | News | Comments

Nanoscopic crys­tals of sil­icon assem­bled like sky­scrapers on wafer-scale sub­strates are being intensely studied as a possible breakthrough in highly efficient battery technologies. A researcher at Northeastern University has been using computational to understand the atomic-scale interactions between the growth of nanowires and new development in this area of technology: alloyed metal droplets.

Unzipped nanotubes unlock potential for batteries

June 13, 2013 4:04 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at Rice Univ. have come up with a new way to boost the efficiency of the ubiquitous lithium-ion battery by employing ribbons of graphene that start as carbon nanotubes. Proof-of-concept anodes built with graphene nanoribbons and tin oxide showed an initial capacity better than the theoretical capacity of tin oxide alone.

“Popcorn” particle pathways promise better lithium-ion batteries

June 11, 2013 7:59 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have confirmed the particle-by-particle mechanism by which lithium ions move in and out of electrodes made of lithium iron phosphate (LFP), findings that could lead to better performance in lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles, medical equipment and aircraft.

Study provides framework for understanding the energetics of ionic liquids

June 7, 2013 4:25 pm | News | Comments

A new study by researchers at Univ. of California, Santa Barbara provides clues into the understanding of the behavior of the charged molecules or particles in ionic liquids. The new framework may lead to the creation of cleaner, more sustainable and nontoxic batteries, and other sources of chemical power.

New boron-silicon electrode could boost lithium-ion battery capacity

June 6, 2013 2:04 pm | News | Comments

Silicon can accept ten times more lithium than the graphite used in the electrodes in lithium-ion batteries, but silicon also expands, shortening electrode life. Looking for an alternative to pure silicon, scientists in Germany have now synthesized a novel framework structure consisting of boron and silicon, which could serve as electrode material.

Multiphysics in the Design of Lithium-Ion Batteries

June 6, 2013 12:37 pm | by Tim Studt | Articles | Comments

New technologies, new materials, and more sophisticated modeling systems have made lithium-ion (Li-ion)-based systems the battery of choice for many designers looking to implement high-energy advanced electric power systems. For these systems, Li-ion systems have replaced nickel-metal hydride systems.

All-solid sulfur-based battery outperforms lithium-ion technology

June 5, 2013 2:59 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have designed and tested an all-solid lithium-sulfur battery with approximately four times the energy density of conventional lithium-ion technologies that power today's electronics. The ORNL battery design, which uses abundant low-cost elemental sulfur, also addresses flammability concerns experienced by other chemistries.

Crash-testing lithium-ion batteries

June 4, 2013 8:06 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Lithium-ion batteries are lightweight, fully rechargeable and can pack a lot of energy into a small volume—making them attractive as power sources for hybrid and electric vehicles. However, there’s a significant downside: Overheating and collisions may cause the batteries to short-circuit and burst into flames. Engineers have worked to improve the safety of lithium-ion batteries and now there may be ways to make batteries more resilient.

Scientists create novel silicon electrodes to improve lithium-ion batteries

June 4, 2013 7:55 am | News | Comments

Stanford Univ. scientists have dramatically improved the performance of lithium-ion batteries by creating novel electrodes made of silicon and conducting polymer hydrogel, a spongy material similar to that used in contact lenses and other household products. The scientists developed a new technique for producing low-cost, silicon-based batteries with potential applications for a wide range of electrical devices.

Power grid getting smarter with big battery

June 3, 2013 7:30 am | News | Comments

Research conducted with a large new battery unveiled in Oregon will help make the Northwest's and the nation's electric system smarter and more efficient, officials said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Portland General Electric's 5-MW, lithium-ion energy storage system was shared with the public Friday at the utility's Salem Smart Power Center in South Salem, Ore.

Researchers develop high-efficiency zinc-air battery

May 30, 2013 7:59 am | News | Comments

Stanford University scientists have developed an advanced zinc-air battery with higher catalytic activity and durability than similar batteries made with costly platinum and iridium catalysts. The results could lead to the development of a low-cost alternative to conventional lithium-ion batteries widely used today.

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